Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How Etsy Changed My Life (well, my work life)

About a week ago I gave a talk in front of a lovely group of women (120 in total) about my business, mainly it's growth over the past year. I showed different methods that worked for me in terms of publicity, mainly overseas.  It was very important to me  to give actual tips and ideas people could implement - rather then stand in front of a crowded room and show off - which I really hate.

I spoke about planning ahead and ways to get the word about your creative work out there. (You can see the full presentation here . I came out feeling really good - everyone was very friendly, and I was sporting grey nails - my tried and true method for feeling amazing:)
Looking back at the past year, I can't pinpoint anything specific that was the one thing that's responsible for my growth. It's a process that I'm still learning. I can say that the fact I started putting a lot of effort in my shop on Etsy really contributed to my studio, and not for the obvious reasons of increases in sales. Working on my Etsy shop brought back the joy of my craft b/c it made me face a lot of things I had been trying to avoid, and made me get back into creating.

 Holiday Ornament, inspired by Etsy
For those of you who don't know, Etsy is an online Marketplace for everything handmade (or in the handmade spirit - they've recently changed the rules a bit) . The revelation that Etsy is more of a social media platform then just a marketplace was a game changer in terms of traffic and sales - with forums and teams created around mutual interests or geography and a big emphasis on liking other peoples creations. For me the most refreshing and inspiring part of Etsy was the fact that I could really feel the pride people take in their craft.  I had always tried to hide the fact that I produce everything myself. Studying Industrial Design in a very traditional and conservative school - handmade was a step down from mass production (it sound almost crazy, right?). In school the professors would always praise the industrial process, and I was embarrassed. 
Then all of the sudden, I was forced to tell my story. I started to show pictures of myself in the production process. As I came out of my shell, I was blown away by the amazing feedback I was receiving. 

 Producing the Felt Storage Bin
The community aspect of Etsy helped me make friends all over the world, like Rebekah from Alaska who takes the most amazing inspiring photos of her lovely jewelery, or Adele, an industrial designer from Italy with a creative outlook on design. 

 The lovely photos from Rebekah's shop - Burnish
Working side by side with talented people from all over the world made me take a long hard look at my own designs - I knew I needed new ideas, better photos, which helped me rediscover my creative streak. I felt obligated to my new customers to show new innovative designs. Now I am busy designing new items, in addition to designs I created especially for Etsy that would have never come to life without that site (my art prints, in case you were wondering).  
More then anything, I think it's about being in constant motion. Something about being a creative entrepreneur working from my home - you kind of function in a different time zone. I needed someone or something to get me back to living with the rest of the worlds schedule out of belief in me, not criticism.
There is a lof of frustration in this kind of job. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get things done, and even when I do get them done I'm not sure if done is good enough - not to mention all of my other jobs (mother, wife, etc) I feel like I should be putting more time into - it's nice to get a friendly push in the right direction every once in a while.
How about you, dear readers? Have you ever gotten a kick in the butt from someone who believes in you? How did that work out? Let me know in the comments below.
Until Next time,

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